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BGSU team competes in animation festival

Five University students, frantic designing and quick thinking will go hand-in-hand with their 3D animation skills to complete 30 seconds of an animated feature on a public service topic in four days.

Only 10 teams from animation programs spanning North America get the opportunity to participate in a cartoon-creating competition — and BGSU is one of them.

It’s the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International presenting animation as entertainment, education, employment and art and the cartoon challenge is the opening act.

Beginning on the morning of May 9, the art team will have to conceive an idea, script, design, and produce a winning cartoon that spotlights a public service.

Team members Kevay Nelson, Josh Fry, Nick Battenfield, Patrick McPeck and Prakash Tiwari are ready for the adventure.

Creating an animation in one semester is a big enough challenge for an individual, let alone a team to have success in four days, said Nelson, a University senior in digital arts.

“We all have to be leaders, so 16 weeks of work, packed into four days, that’s the biggest challenge most anyone will never face,” he said.

The team’s dedication and love for animation, they believe, is their ultimate power.

“The BG team is number one because we all have that love for animation, we work at it constantly,” Nelson said. “We work the hardest and all balance together very well.”

Senior digital art student, Battenfield, hopes that his personal skills will work in the best way possible for the team.

“Like each member, I have my own personal views on skills I contribute,” he said. “Though the most important thing, I think, is my opinion and style.”

Some of the members believe that focusing on the animated movements and story telling will be major focal points.

“My focus is on timing and movements, and I think I was definitely added on for my story-telling ability,” Battenfield said.

Another senior team member, McPeck, hopes that his quick manner of generating ideas for story-telling will help the team the most. However, he believes the biggest challenge will be compromising ideas.

“Everyone has their own [ideas] and we will need to combine them to make a story that we all will agree on,” McPeck said.

Bonnie Mitchell advisor to the team and art associate professor agrees that story telling is the most important thing the team will have to pull together. Without the story, she says they won’t be able to get any other aspect of the project completed.

“You have to come up with a good concept,” Mitchell said. “The hardest part is coming up with a good ending.”

It is only then, she said, that they will be able to figure out the modeling of characters, the texturing of the design, movement, so on and so forth.

Mitchell’s own list of accomplishments is only another benefit added to the team. Her artwork has been shown at international art shows for digital artists and she is the chair of the prestigious computer art show in Boston. She has even developed a series of art and humanities CD and DVD-ROMs published by McGraw-Hill.

“This team is a collection of some of the best modelers and animators in the digital arts division,” she said. “And I am proud to be the advisor for such a creative group.”

The well-rounded team members each have their own inspirations but they believe this can only help their team by pooling in ideas from everyone.

“To be honest, I don’t fear any of the challenges I expect to face,” Battenfield said. “I am confident in our team and any road blocks I may hit, I will have them to help me work through it just as I will be there to help them.”

The cartoon challenge may seem like an impossible task but Mitchell believes that the team’s energy will get them through the task of this international honor.

“We believe BGSU has the potential to be one of the best animation programs in the nation,” she said. “We are excited to showcase what we can do to the world.”

University junior student, Fry, believes this opportunity couldn’t come at a better time in his college career.

“This is a great chance to get out there and to do something amazing,” Fry said.

Amazing or not, the digital art team is preparing to animate a knockout original.

Almost $15,000 in prize money will be awarded to the best animation team — a concept that the team believes can also help push them through sleep deprivation.

“When you put that much energy together, with a tight deadline, and everyone working together,” she said. “They can perform miracles.”

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